As a child, Victoria McQueen discovered that she had a unique gift – she could open the door between reality and fantasy. Using her bicycle, she could conjure up a covered bridge that would take her to wherever she needed to go. If something had gone missing, Vic would race off on her bike, cross the shorter way bridge and locate whatever had been misplaced.
Vic would eventually learn that she wasn’t alone in her ability to alter reality to her benefit. Others exist with this special gift and not all of them use it for admirable purposes. Take Charlie Manx for example. Just as Vic uses her bike, Charlie uses his vintage 1938 Rolls Royce to travel to Christmasland. Manx’s Christmasland is a world in which happiness is against the law, that every morning is Christmas morning and every night is Christmas Eve. Manx would abduct children that he believed were mistreated by their parents and transport them to his magical wonderland keeping them safe from harm.
However, everything changed when both Vic and Manx finally crossed paths. When Vic was twelve years old, she found her way to Manx’s utopia only to discover that it’s not the paradise that Manx would have you believe. Following a daring escape, Vic leads Manx to capture and following his death many years later, Vic believes that she can finally rest. That is until the phone calls begin..
I enjoyed Hill’s last full novel, Horns and am a massive fan of his Locke & Key series so I had high hopes for this one. Fortunately for me, the hype surrounding NOS4A2 was well deserved. Hill crafted not only an interesting story but filled it with characters that will probably stick with me for a while. I’ll have to admit that when it was over, I was disappointed I wouldn’t get to hang out with Vic MacQueen and her husband, Lou.
The tag team of Manx and Bing was a formidable one. I’ll go on record as saying the most interesting bad guys are always the ones that view their work as admirable and righteous. Sure, you can give me a villain who loves cracking skulls and conquering lands but give me someone who thinks child abduction is in the kid’s best interest and you’re going to have me hooked. But as interesting as Manx is, it’s his servant Bing that steals the show. This guy is one creepy dude and throughout NOS4A2, he does some pretty reprehensible things. Bing’s actions had my skin crawling and I couldn’t wait to see him get what he deserved.
I really didn’t want to mention his father in this review but it was inevitable. It’s also hard to ignore when Hill has tied his work in with his dad’s by mentioning a few key locations and events that occurred within the Stephen King universe. I won’t spoil them here but if you’re a King fan, you’ll enjoy those “a-ha” moments the same way I did.
Oh, and there’s a Firefly reference. Browncoats forever!